The Feminist Movement and Scripture

Too often we as Christians react to the feminist movement in one of two ways. We denounce it, using as a basis isolated scripture passages wrenched from their contexts. Or we ignore scripture, insisting that since our cultural situation is so different from that of biblical times, it is futile to seek biblical truth for this issue. Both of these approaches are in error. We must be faithful to scripture; we have no right to take a position contrary to it. An issue like feminism, however, raises immediate problems, for it is the kind of issue about which scripture does not always speak directly. This makes it much harder to deal with and raises hermeneutical questions.

In approaching scripture with regard to the issue of feminism, four hermeneutical principles must be followed. The first is that all relevant scripture must be used. Too long the church has looked only at those texts that suggest (on the surface, at least) the inferiority of women. It has failed to take seriously those passages that suggest equality (Galatians 3:28) and reciprocity between man and woman (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 and 11:11 and 12). It has looked primarily to the second creation account and slighted the first. It has noticed neither the aggressive woman lover in Song of Solomon nor the industrious manufacturer of Proverbs 31. It has ignored Jeremiah's curious word, "For the Lord has created a new thing on the earth: a woman protects a man" (31:22).

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